With the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival completed for another year, attention switches west this weekend for the running of the Railway Stakes (Race 8) over 1600m at Ascot.
The early favourite in our fixed odds market is the Grant & Alana Williams-trained mare Perfect Reflection, who came with a powerful burst over the final furlong to overwhelm stablemate Disposition in the Lee Steere Stakes here a fortnight ago.
Despite her flop in the Australian Guineas back in the autumn, Perfect Reflection has built up a strong record on home soil and drops 2.5kgs off her last win under handicap conditions as she aims to become the first horse since Belle Bizarre in 2006 to complete that particular double.
Having drawn ideally in barrier two at Tuesday night’s draw and with champion local hoop William Pike in the saddle, punters have every reason to believe she can get the job done but in what looks a competitive field our traders aren’t entirely convinced and are happy to take her on.
Damien Oliver endured a lean spring carnival by his lofty standards and will be hoping a change of scenery proves the tonic when he partners Chris Waller’s Mackintosh, who has been freshened for this after finishing a creditable fifth behind Le Romain in the Cantala Stakes.
Prior to that run, Mackintosh had finished within half a length of Hauraki in the Epsom so despite drawing awkwardly out in 16 we’ve got obvious respect for the stable and the Group 1 form, especially in light of Waller’s assertion that the Kiwi-bred bay is ‘the perfect horse’ for this.
Waller will also be represented by Good Project, who ran them off their feet in last year’s Railway and will be looking to join Luckygray (2011 & 2013) as recent dual winners of this event.
Though he was somewhat luckless when finishing seventh in the Cantala, this horse has failed to really fire a shot in the ensuing 12 months since that win and we’ve got serious doubts about his ability to measure up again.
Talented gelding Scales of Justice handled the step up to stakes level with aplomb after a plucky win in the RJ Peters Stakes here last weekend and the merit of that performance convinced trainer Lindsey Smith to have a tilt at this.
With regular rider Paul Harvey suspended, Smith pulled off a coup by landing the services of South African jockey Douglas Whyte, who has ridden successfully in Honk Kong for many years and also tasted success aboard Moriarty in the 2014 Kingston Town Classic.
We’ve seen plenty of early money for the horse and from a favourable draw that should allow him to find a nice spot we’re expecting him to run well.
Tradesman had the better of Scales of Justice when they last met and with locally-trained horses enjoying a strong recent record in the Railway he is surely one to consider for the exotics.
Of the others, affable owner Bob Peters will also be represented by Asian Beau Stakes winner Heart Starter,who hit the line strongly behind Scales of Justice after being blocked for a run halfway down the straight.
He drops 6kgs off that effort and our traders felt that he represented some solid each-way value in what is a fairly open market.
The visiting brigade from the eastern states will also feature the enigmatic Rageese, who landed the L’Oreal Paris Stakes over 1400m on Oaks Day and figures to be competitive.
While He or She has plenty of experience around Ascot having raced in Perth during his early career under the tutelage of Vaughan Sigley and might find this more manageable having run into some smart horses in Melbourne throughout this preparation.
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2. Scales of Justice
4. Heart Starter